ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — In less than two weeks, Anne Arundel County’s police chief Timothy Altomare will retire.

Chief Altomare expressed concerns that lately, officers haven’t been getting the respect they deserve.

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In an open letter, he said: “This conversation is not about race for me. We would die to protect any person who needed us, regardless of skin tone, religion, sexual orientation or any other thing that people use to chop humanity up into smaller groups.”

Altomare, who has participated in Black Lives Matter marches, added: “There is a movement in this Nation and in this county to remove the teeth of police. It is wrong and it will have grave and lasting effects that you WILL see and feel. I cannot, however, endorse a future in which cops’ rights are stripped away and your officers are treated like the criminals.”

Altomare, who’s been chief for six years, has been praised for increasing the number of Black officers in his department and working closely with groups like the NAACP.

“I know that here in Anne Arundel County with the movement, and everything that has been going on as it relates to George Floyd, we in Anne Arundel County also need police reform,” said Jacqueline Boone Allsup, the President of the Anne Arundel County Branch NAACP.

Chief Altomare said his retirement has nothing to do with a February 2019 video where an officer is seen with his knee on a man’s neck. That man is now suing the police department and demanding that they ban chokeholds.

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“It is always important to de-escalate and to make sure that when force is necessary to make an arrest, to match force with equal force,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman.

This week, Pittman is expected to make an announcement that chokeholds will be banned immediately.

Pittman told WJZ he does not believe police reform will result in cutting police departments.

“I don’t think it’s going to go too far. I don’t think our police are going to be disbanded and there is going to be a crime wave. I just don’t believe that,” said Pittman.

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The county executive said he was surprised to hear that the chief is retiring because he’d made a lot of positive changes in the police department.

Ava-joye Burnett